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In 1969, Plastic Ono Band (John Lennon and Yoko Ono) recorded Give Peace A Chance, an anti-war anthem for generations of pacifists and music fans around the world. The song was recorded live from Lennon and Ono’s Queen Elizabeth Hotel suite in downtown Montreal, where John and Yoko were holding their famous “Bed-in for Peace” protest. Fifty years later, the Mint has captured that special moment in Canadian and music history with a pure silver coin celebrating Lennon and Ono’s artistic talent and social activism, in a deal brokered by Epic Rights, the global licensing agent for John Lennon.

“For generations of Canadians, the music and lyrics of John Lennon and Yoko Ono have been a source of pleasure and inspiration,” said Marie Lemay, President and CEO of the Royal Canadian Mint.  “We are delighted to have crafted a coin celebrating Canada’s special connection to John and Yoko, and their lasting message of peace.”

“For the 50th anniversary of the Bed-in for Peace, we are honoured that the Royal Canadian Mint is paying tribute to a marking moment in our hotel and our city’s history by issuing a commemorative coin,” mentions David Connor, Regional Vice-President and General Manager, Fairmont The Queen Elizabeth. “We hope that it will help promote greater awareness about John and Yoko’s message of peace which still has strong resonance and importance today.”

The reverse design of this 99.99% pure silver coin features a rendering of Ivor Sharp’s famous black and white photograph of John and Yoko at their “Bed-In for Peace,” held in Montreal in the late spring of 1969. Dressed in pyjamas and both holding roses, they sit on a bed, with handmade peace posters hanging behind them.  The obverse features the effigy of Queen Elizabeth II by Susanna Blunt.


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A new plaque has been unveiled in commemoration of John Lennon and Yoko Ono’s first public gig, which took place 50 years ago at Cambridge University.
Ono held a jazz performance at Lady Mitchell Hall on March 2 1969 – John joined her as “her band”.

Now, a plaque that reads “Yoko Ono John Lennon Cambridge 1969” has been unveiled to mark the event. It precedes a six-month exhibition of Ono’s work which will be displayed in various cities.
The couple’s experimental jazz concert was covered in brief in student publication The Cambridge News at the time. The report explained that Lennon sat with his back to the audience for a large portion of the 26-minute set.
Part of the article described how Ono opened with a “fearsome siren note” and wrapped up the gig with “a long series of screams”.John, meanwhile, was sat by her feet with his back to the crowd, “holding, shaking, swinging electronic guitars right up against a large speaker”.

In 1980, Lennon spoke to the BBC about the Cambridge concert. “The audience were very weird, because they were all these sort of intellectual artsy-fartsies from Cambridge,” he said, but added that they “were totally solid.”
Gabriella Daris, an art historian and curator of the forthcoming Ono exhibition said: “There’s very little to commemorate this other than a press report, word of mouth and the actual recording.”
A recording of Lennon and Ono’s set, called Cambridge 1969, was played out in the Lady Mitchell Hall foyer as the plaque, gifted to the university by Daris, was unveiled  (March 2) on the 50th anniversary of the concert.
‘Yoko Ono: Looking For….’ exhibition, which opens in June and runs until the end 2019, will feature more than 90 works by Ono.



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A&E will premiere the two-hour special John and Yoko: Above Us Only Sky next month as part of the network’s “Biography” strand.

The film follows the making of John Lennon’s 1971 solo album Imagine, exploring the politically divided time in which he recorded it.

John and Yoko also puts emphasis on the creative collaboration between Lennon and Ono, using the couple’s belief in radical engagement to draw parallels between past and present.

The special features interviews with Yoko Ono, Julian Lennon, photographer David Bailey, gallerist John Dunbar (who introduced the couple), Lennon’s former personal assistant Dan Richter and studio designer Eddie Veale.

John and Yoko: Above Us Only Sky is produced by Eagle Rock Films in association with A&E Network. Peter Worsley serves as producer, with Geoff Kempin and Terry Shand serving as executive producers.

The doc premieres March 11 at 9 p.m. ET/PT on A&E.

Watch a preview clip below:



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On this day: 1970 , US single release: ‘Instant Karma! (We All Shine On)’/’Who Has Seen The Wind’.

Released as a single on Apple Records in February 1970. The lyric focuses on a concept in which the causality of one’s actions is immediate rather than borne out over a lifetime. The single was credited to “Lennon/Ono with the Plastic Ono Band”, apart from in the US, where the credit was “John Ono Lennon”. The song reached the top five in the British and American singles charts, competing with the Beatles’ “Let It Be” in the US, where it became the first solo single by a member of the band to sell a million copies.

“Instant Karma!” was conceived, written, recorded and released within a period of ten days, making it one of the fastest-released songs in pop music history. The recording was produced by Phil Spector, marking a comeback for the American producer after his self-imposed retirement in 1966, and leading to him being offered the producer’s role on the Beatles’ Let It Be album. Recorded at London’s Abbey Road Studios, “Instant Karma!” employs Spector’s signature Wall of Sound technique and features contributions from George Harrison, Klaus Voormann, Alan White and Billy Preston. The B-side was “Who Has Seen the Wind?”, a song composed and performed by Yoko Ono. When released in the US, the single was given a minor remix by Spector.

Recently shorn of the long hair synonymous with their 1969 campaign for world peace, Lennon and Ono promoted the single with an appearance on Britain’s Top of the Pops five days after its release. The song received positive reviews and is considered by some music critics to be among the finest recordings from Lennon’s solo career. A live performance recorded at his and Ono’s “One to One” concerts in August 1972 was included on the posthumously released Live in New York City (1986). Paul Weller, Duran Duran and U2 are among the acts who have covered “Instant Karma!” Its chorus also inspired the title to Stephen King’s 1977 novel The Shining.

Although still officially a member of the Beatles, Lennon had privately announced his departure from the band in September 1969. He was keen to issue “Instant Karma!” immediately as a single, the third under his and Ono’s Plastic Ono Band moniker. The recording session took place at Abbey Road Studios in north-west London, on the evening of 27 January. Lennon’s fellow musicians at the session were Harrison, Klaus Voormann, Alan White and Billy Preston– all of whom had performed at the December 1969 Peace for Christmas Concert, as part of the Plastic Ono Supergroup. The recording engineer for “Instant Karma!” was EMI mainstay Phil McDonald.[38] Spector produced the session, arriving late after Harrison had found him at Apple’s office and persuaded him to attend.

According to author Bruce Spizer, the line-up for the basic track, before overdubs, was Lennon (vocals, acoustic guitar), Harrison (electric guitar), Preston (organ), Voormann (bass) and White (drums). Lennon later recalled of the recording: “Phil (Spector) came in and said, ‘How do you want it?’ And I said, ‘1950s’ and he said ‘Right’ and BOOM! … he played it back and there it was.” The song uses a similar amount of echo to 1950s Sun Records recordings.

[T]here was this little guy walking around with “PS” on his shirt, and I was thinking, “Who is this guy?” … When he turned on the playback [after recording], it was just incredible. First, it was ridiculously loud, but also there was the ring of all these instruments and the way the song had such motion. As a first experience of the difference from the way you played it to the sound in the control room, it was overwhelming. And I knew immediately who he was – Phil Spector.

– Klaus Voormann, describing his first experience of working with Spector and his Wall of Sound technique

The musicians recorded ten takes, the last of which was selected for overdubbing. To create what Spector biographer Mark Ribowsky terms a “four-man Wall of Sound” production, Lennon added grand piano onto the basic track, while Harrison and White shared another piano and Voormann played electric piano. In addition, Beatles aide Mal Evans overdubbed chimes (or tubular bells) and White added a second, muffled drum part.[51] Rather than an instrumental solo over the third verse, Lennon vocalised a series of what Urish and Bielen term “grunts and moan” Lennon felt that the chorus was missing something, and so Preston and Evans were sent to a nearby nightclub to bring in a group of people to provide backing vocals. These newcomers and all the musicians, along with Allen Klein, then added chorus vocals, with Harrison directing the singing.

Although Lennon and Spector disagreed over the bass sound, Lennon was delighted with the producer’s work on “Instant Karma”. White’s drums assumed the role of a lead instrument, positioned prominently in the mix. Spector biographer Richard Williams wrote in 1972: “No Beatles record had ever possessed such a unique sound; Spector had used echo to make the drums reverberate like someone slapping a wet fish on a marble slab, and the voices sounded hollow and decayed.” Spector wanted to add a string section to the track in Los Angeles, but Lennon insisted that the recording was complete.

Having only recently returned to producing, after the commercial failure of Ike & Tina Turner’s 1966 single “River Deep – Mountain High” in America, Spector had “passed the audition”, according to Beatles Forever author Nicholas Schaffner. “Instant Karma!” was the first of many Beatles-related recordings that Spector worked on during the early 1970s. Lennon and Harrison were sufficiently impressed with his production on the song that they asked Spector to work on the tapes for the Beatles’ final album release, Let It Be, and then to produce their respective 1970 solo albums, John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band and All Things Must Pass.





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ON THIS DAY:  16 February, 1972…   John Lennon and Yoko Ono share hosting duties on ‘The Mike Douglas Show’. 

The Mike Douglas Show was an American daytime television talk show that was hosted by Mike Douglas. Initially, it aired only in Cleveland during much of its first two years, followed by expansion to Philadelphia and nationwide. It went into syndication in 1963 and remained on television until 1981. It was distributed by Westinghouse Broadcasting, and for much of its run, originated from studios of two of the company’s TV stations in Cleveland and Philadelphia.

John Lennon and Yoko Ono took over ‘The Mike Douglas Show’ for a week.

The musical highlight was an appearance by Chuck Berry, who played “Johnny B. Goode” and “Memphis, Tennessee” with Lennon and Ono.

Between 14 and 28 January 1972, John Lennon and Yoko Ono co-hosted The Mike Douglas Show in the US; their appearances were broadcast from 14-18 February. During their stint they invited a number of political figures and musical heroes on as guests, and also débuted several songs that they were planning to record.


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US director Michael Epstein’s latest documentary called John and Yoko: Above Us Only Sky was chosen to open the 2019 Fipadoc festival in Biarritz, in the south-west of France Tuesday evening. Lennon and Yoko’s song Imagine from which the film title is drawn is one of the most popular in pop music history.

Even if you don’t remember 1971 when the album and title song Imagine by John Lennon and the Plastic Ono Band released, even if you don’t know what a hippie looks like, you should find this documentary revealing and moving.

The time-line it follows is the construction of the album and the recording of the songs. However this is not just about pop music history.

Eagle-Rock producer of John and Yoko: Above us only sky, Peter Worsley said that 60 hours of largely hitherto unseen rushes and leftovers belonging to Yoko Ono landed in the director’s lap along with access to all the archives. “Michael [Epstein] had the wonderful task of going through all that and finding huge amounts of very intimate material that had never been seen before. I think it’s a remarkable picture of what life was like in that creative kernel if you like, that John and Yoko were living in while they were recording the album.”

Yoko for John

Epstein’s film is classical in form with real-life archival footage alternating with witness accounts, friends and colleagues and John’s son Julian. It’s about the song’s words, but also about two people who marked that period with their pro-peace activity.

Thanks to the words of those interviewees, the film is kinder towards Lennon’s Japanese-American wife, than many detractors have been over the years.

“Yoko was tremendous,” says producer Peter Worsley. She wanted to be involved at the very beginning. She helped to choose the director. She had worked with Michael Epstein previously on Lennon NYC.

She wanted to have an idea of the direction the film was taking, and after that she let us make the film. She did view it and said it was fine. She didn’t expect to have any level of creative control over it.”

Historian and peace activist, Tariq Ali, who also features in the archival footage, supplies additional understanding of Yoko and context.

“His contribution is very valuable. He was a friend of theirs. He was part of radicalizing John and Yoko and bringing to their attention the broader political elements. But I think he also helped emphasize the amount of racism that Yoko and that the couple faced, and how that gives a broader picture of society in 1971.”

Unlike his 3 fellow ex-Beatles, George Harrison, Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr, Lennon’s fans never saw him with grey hair. He was assassinated in 1980 aged 40. This is therefore not the first film about a man who was a living legend in his time and who, with Yoko Ono, launched a major peace campaign against the Vietnam War.

Imagine there’s no countries, it isn’t hard to do, nothing to kill or die for and no religion too imagine all the people living life in peace…”

Among some of the newly revealed footage, one of the most touching, and most tense scenes in the film, is when a very young Vietnam War veteran, fresh from demobilization rehab in California, lands up on their Tittenhurst doorstep. Worsley agrees that the frank and gentle encounter is a striking scene.

“A small section of that has been seen in the Gimme the Truth film. I agree it’s one of the emotional highlights of the film where you see the level of John’s empathy and you understand the strange psycho-dramas that were floating around John and his writing.”

Peace and Love

Julian Lennon’s comment in the film on his father’s song ‘Imagine’ is poignant, “It’s not religious, it’s not political, it’s just humanity and life. …We all actually want what he’s singing about. I think that’s why it’s still such an important song. Because the sad thing is the world is still in a bad way.”

The nub of the film however appears to be the deep bond between, as one of the titles on the album calls him, a Jealous Guy, and his muse, for whom he had an all-consuming love.

“As we investigated the relationship that John had with Yoko, it comes across that John really wanted to be an artist and that’s what Yoko helped bring out in him,” explains Worsley.

Co-produced by Britain’s Channel 4, John and Yoko: Above Us Only Sky has already been broadcast in the UK, however Fipadoc is where it’s getting its Continental European première, and A&E in the US is due to programme the film in the spring this year.